A Course in Advanced Tie Knots
Here is all you need to know about “advanced” tie knots: they are useless and you shouldn’t wear them.
Above is the absurdly dumb “Eldredge Knot,” but it’s far from the only offender. Rarely does a week go by where I don’t end up with an email about Pratt knots or Winchester knots or Dubble Bubble knots or some other goofy stuff.
Here’s a summary of useful tie knots:
The Four in Hand
The old around-around-behind-over-through. The classic four in hand knot is simple, easy to tie, holds a dimple well, and is appropriate for any situation. It is slightly asymmetrical, which is desirable. It is more flattering to most men, more relaxed and more distinctive. Really the only time this knot isn’t suitable is with a very skinny, insubstantial tie.
The Double Four in Hand
This is the four in hand knot with an added wrap-around, as seen in this video by our friend GW. Useful if you are shorter and need to use up some extra length from an off-the-rack tie, or if you prefer a slightly fuller knot. I use it once in a while to give more structure to the knot of a knit tie.
The Half Windsor
If you’re one of those people who insists on symmetry, go ahead and use the half Windsor (or the Pratt, I guess). Just know that none of the Windsors ever wore the Windsor, half or otherwise. They wear the four in hand for the reasons outlined above. And look better because of it. (The full Windsor should be the exclusive province of Donald Trump and former NFL stars and other people whose goal is to look like a jerk.)
Everything Else
Is silly bullshit.

A Course in Advanced Tie Knots

Here is all you need to know about “advanced” tie knots: they are useless and you shouldn’t wear them.

Above is the absurdly dumb “Eldredge Knot,” but it’s far from the only offender. Rarely does a week go by where I don’t end up with an email about Pratt knots or Winchester knots or Dubble Bubble knots or some other goofy stuff.

Here’s a summary of useful tie knots:

The Four in Hand

The old around-around-behind-over-through. The classic four in hand knot is simple, easy to tie, holds a dimple well, and is appropriate for any situation. It is slightly asymmetrical, which is desirable. It is more flattering to most men, more relaxed and more distinctive. Really the only time this knot isn’t suitable is with a very skinny, insubstantial tie.

The Double Four in Hand

This is the four in hand knot with an added wrap-around, as seen in this video by our friend GW. Useful if you are shorter and need to use up some extra length from an off-the-rack tie, or if you prefer a slightly fuller knot. I use it once in a while to give more structure to the knot of a knit tie.

The Half Windsor

If you’re one of those people who insists on symmetry, go ahead and use the half Windsor (or the Pratt, I guess). Just know that none of the Windsors ever wore the Windsor, half or otherwise. They wear the four in hand for the reasons outlined above. And look better because of it. (The full Windsor should be the exclusive province of Donald Trump and former NFL stars and other people whose goal is to look like a jerk.)

Everything Else

Is silly bullshit.

Your Fall/ Winter Scarf

As the temperatures begin to dip, it will be important for you to have a few scarves on hand. If it’s cold enough, you’ll obviously wear yours with an overcoat or some kind of heavy winter outerwear. If it’s not, however, a scarf can be even more important, as it may be your only source of warmth. 

When buying one, it’s important to pay attention to a few key things:

  • Material: Generally speaking, cashmere will be softer and warmer than wool or lambswool, but it really depends on the quality. A lambswool/ angora blend by Alex Begg, for example, will be nicer than any cheap cashmere. You can also get scarves in either silk or cotton, but those tend to not be as warm. Whichever you choose, I recommend staying away from acrylic. There are too many affordable, good scarves, made from natural materials, to justify buying an acrylic scarf. 
  • Nap and size: Pay attention to the size and nap. I personally prefer scarves to be around 70” long, and never go below 63”. As Will from A Suitable Wardrobe shows, if your scarf is too short, you won’t be able to tie it. You’ll also want to pay attention to the width. If your scarf is too thin, it will hang like a silly noodle around your neck. Lastly, note that rougher materials, such as some lambswools, will be more difficult to tie into knots.
  • Color and patterns: As I’ve written before, I think scarves are worn best when they complement, but not match, the rest of your ensemble. That means picking one with complementary colors or a secondary color that matches your jacket or coat. I personally find solid colored scarves, or those with plaids, windowpanes, and stripes, to be the easiest to wear, but you can also get scarves in Fair Isle, dip dye, or houndstooth designs. 

So with that, what are some of your best options? 

Of course, there are hundreds of good scarves to be had, so the above list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. If you’re on the market to buy one, however, the above can be a good place to start. 

The Necktie Series, Part VI: Is the Four-in-Hand Really the Only Knot You Need to Know?

You know what the menswear blogosphere needs more of? Disagreement and debate. So long as we keep it friendly and respectful, I’m sure we would all benefit from having a little more push back on what each of us think. So I thought I’d take a stand against some orthodoxy today - the idea that the four-in-hand is the only knot you need to know.

Well, more accurately, it’s said that the four-in-hand and the double four-in-hand are the only knots you need to know. However, they’re more or less the same thing. Both are asymmetrical and relatively small compared to other knots.

It’s not a terrible piece of advice, certainly. It works for almost every situation, and you’ll rarely go wrong with it. However, there is one situation where I think the four-in-hand shouldn’t be used: when you’re wearing a spread or cutaway collar shirt. For this, I think the aysmetry looks poor and the smallness of the knot out of proportion with the collar. For me, dressing well is often about proportions - the width of your tie, for example, should match the width of your lapel; the circumference of your leg opening should be in proportion to the size of your waist and feet; the length of your jacket should be in proportion to the length of your legs. Everything is about proportions and balance. 

Thus, for spread collar shirts, I think a bigger knot is called for. Now, the “bigger knot” most men know is the Half-Windsor. However, the Half-Windsor is a bit ostentatious. Better, I think, to opt for the Pratt. It’s symmetrical, so it looks better on spread collars; big enough to fill the gap between your collar points; and helps hide the tie band that would otherwise peak out. It’s also of a medium thickness, somewhere between the Half-Windsor and four-in-hand, so it does the job without being vulgar. 

I’ve Photoshopped some images for you to judge. One is of James Bond from the film, From Russia with Love (given to me by BespoKenN). The other is from a Ralph Lauren catalog, which showcases their cutaway collar model, called the Keaton. 

Try the Pratt when you’re at home today and see what you think. Note, however, that this knot should not be used with grenadines, as the knot will be too big. 

To learn how to tie the Pratt, you can read my earlier entry about this knot here